Carol Acton & Jane Potter
Series: Cultural History of Modern War MUP
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Manchester University Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2015)
Working a World of Hurt fills a lacunae in the studies of the psychological trauma wrought by war by focusing not on soldiers, but on the men and women who fought to save them in casualty clearing stations, hospitals, and prison camps. Through a rich analysis of both published and unpublished personal accounts by doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and other medical personnel from the major wars of the 20th and early 21st centuries, Acton and Potter uncover a spectrum of responses to what was often unimaginable suffering, responses that ranged from breakdown to resilience, from exhausted resignation to firmer belief in humanity despite the brutalities of armed conflict. Organised chronologically, the chapters are distinguished by their focus on such individuals as American ambulance drivers in the First World War, British P.O.W. doctors in the Second World War, and nurses, doctors and medics in the Vietnam War. And with a chapter dedicated to the recent narratives of medical personnel in Iraq, the study is highly topical and situates the life-writing from these contemporary wars within a larger tradition of war literature. Wide-ranging in scope and interdisciplinary in method, Working in a World of Hurt puts the letters, diaries, memoirs, and weblogs that chronicle physical and emotional suffering centre stage, many for the first time. These testaments to the torment of combatants also--crucially--bear witness to the harrowing struggles of wartime healers. Scholarly yet accessible, it will appeal to lecturers and students as well as the general reader.